So many powerful stories, and now to finally add my own. Warning very long post ahead!
I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, but did have a few issues. Early in the pregnancy I had two miscarriage scares, but they where nothing, my baby was fine. Then at about the half way point when we went in for the anatomy ultrasound, they discovered I had complete placenta previa. This meant the placenta was over my cervix. They told me if it didn't move I would need to have a C- Section. Mentally I tried to prepare for that. Then at 34 weeks when they rechecked me, the placenta had move, and I was cleared for a normal vaginal birth, I start doing anything I can to try to stretch the birth area as I am terrified of tearing.
Flash forward, my little guy was 11 days late. I did not want to be induced, but I did want to have him NOW. I had my membrane scrapped 3 times, and finally started acupuncture. I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions since about 7.5 months. They didn't really hurt, I would just see my stomach go tight, and feel some pressure. By 9 months the Braxton Hicks where stronger and had a little bit of pain, but nothing terrible.
Flash forward to the day I go into labor. The midwife I see is an older very experienced midwife. She tells me I need to schedule an induction. I tell her no, I don't want to as the baby and I are both healthy. She tells me if I don't I have to find care else where. I finally schedule for as far out as I can. (This was a Thursday, I scheduled for Tuesday Morning). I'd had acupuncture earlier in the day, and then the older Midwife did a membrane scrap. Let me tell you that she really scrapped me, the two other's I'd had felt not much different from check ups but this one, holy shit, I am kind of surprised she didn't break my water.
That night after dinner we take our dog for a walk, as my acupuncturist had suggested; it's about 9pm. As we walk my husband notices that my Braxton-Hicks are coming in regular intervals. The contractions still don't hurt that bad, but they are regular about 7 minutes apart. I want to keep walking because I don't want it to stop, I am so ready to have this child.
We walk about 3 miles, it's dark and the dog is tired by the time we get home, I think it's around 1030 at this point. I'm still excited however and I want to walk more. We drop the dog off and start walking again. But we only get a few blocks before the contractions start to change and get more painful. We go home. The contraction are now painful, but not that much worse then bad period cramps. We call the hospital and talk to a midwife student who says to stay home and get some sleep until the contractions are very painful and less then 5 minutes apart. I can't sleep. I take a bath, which helps a little but not much. The pain starts to get very intense, and I don't feel like it ever really stops. I want to kill my husband for asking me " is another contraction starting". At about midnight we call the hospital again, talk to the student again, and told it's okay to come in for a check.
I get there at about 1am, I'm at 4cm. The pain is now so intense I feel like I am loosing my mind. It literally feels like some one is cutting my belly open with a hot knife, and the pressure on my back is so sever I think my back is going to break. They keep having the student check me, and despite the bath (the reason we chose this hospital) being open it takes them almost 2 hours before they get it ready for me. My contractions are very long and intense. I think a normal contraction is supposed to last 30 seconds, mine where lasting 2 minutes. I felt like as soon as one stopped another would start again. I still don't get an epidural because I am scared of having a needle in my back. However after they finally get the bath ready for me, and it doesn't help I have reached my breaking point and ask for an epidural. I have also been awake for almost 24 hours at this point, as I had not slept well the night before.
It takes almost an hour to get the epidural. I remember they made me sign something before they would give it to me, I remember thinking I didn't care if I just signed over my house, just make the pain stop!
The moment the epidural is given I feel relief and tiredness sweep over me. I feel sleep weighing down on me like a ton of bricks. I still feel everything, but in a much less intense way. Before I try to go to sleep though I tell my husband that if he wants to go get the food from the car, now might be a good time to do it as I am going to sleep for a while.
As soon as he leaves the room the nurse rushes in with another nurse. She points to the printed reading and says in a very stressed out voice "THAT THE BABY'S HEART RATE!" With in moments the real midwife is at my side, she tells me they are taking me down for an emergency c-section. They can't wait for my husband to get back from the car, the baby is crashing.
All of this happens with less then 5 minutes of starting the epidural.
They put the sides of the bed up, put me on oxygen, and run me to the OR. While I am in the elevator I look at the midwife and say "I can still feel my legs, please don't cut me open." She looks at me and says "We will put you under when we get to the OR".
I am now totally alone. There is going to be no one there to welcome my son into the world. I feel like the world is ending, my husband is going to miss the birth of his child because I was selfish and wanted an epidural, and then was stupid and sent him for food.
My parents are also at the hospital,so I look around the OR and ask the room at large if someone can go get my mother. No one responds. I ask again, and no one is paying attention to me. A nurse puts a new oxygen mask on me and unhelpfully tells me to "relax", I think I am hyperventilating.
A fully gowned and masked doctor enters, and at the foot of the bed tells me his name. I don't hear it, and I won't find out what his name is until I get the bill many weeks later.
There is so much sound and activity. Everyone is talking over me, and honestly in a weird way I don't feel like I am even there, I feel like a piece of meat that is about to be cut up. Finally my husband appears out of nowhere. He's gowned up too. I cry, when I see him. I tell him how sorry I am that I got the epidural, and put us through this. The midwife student who up until this point had been our main provider hears me tell my husband this, and says "Don't blame yourself, we don't know it was the epidural, we don't know why these things happen."
The completely gowned and masked doctor comes back up and talks to my husband and me. He says that since they have been in the OR my son's heart rate has come back up and is steady. They will let me go back up and labor normally, but if my son's heart rate drops again they will do a c-section no matter what. He then says "This isn't baseball, it's not three strikes your out. Next strike we operate." I have never hated a man more, then I did in that second; the last thing I needed in the moment was a baseball metaphor.
Back in the room I am hooked up to a bout a million monitors. The epidural has mostly worn off but I will not push bottom for more medication, because I am convinced that's what cause my son's heart issues. They place an internal monitor on my son's head. The midwife student tries 4 times, the midwife twice, and finally the doctor gets it on his second try. I am never asked if I am okay with a student doing this procedure, and I feel every attempt. By this point I've kind of just accepted that I am a training tool for these people.
After the monitor is placed I try to sleep. But the nurse comes in again. My babies heart rate has dropped again, but not to the point where they need to do a c-section. It falls with in the normal range of drops but to be safe they are going to re position me for optimal position for the baby. This happens about 5 more times. Finally I am left alone for about 5 minutes. I close my eyes and am instantly asleep.
It feels like I just closed my eyes, but my husband tells me it was about 10 minutes. When I open them again the room is full of people. Machines are being wheeled it, every alarm possible is going off. The doctor appears again. He yells at me "How much weight did you gain during pregnancy?!" I stutter that I gained about 20 pounds. "Good" is all he says.
The midwife tells me that I am fully dilated and the baby is in the birth canal but he's heart rate is dropping.
The doctor yells at me " You can either have a c-section or a vacuum. But we need to get him out now, a vacuum is quicker."
I feel like I have been slapped. Less then a minute ago I was asleep. I ask if I can try to push him out? The doctor says "You got an epidural, it can take 3 hours to push out a baby after an epidural. We don't have three hours."
I say "Vacuum". Instantly stirrups spring up and my legs are put in them.The doctor disappears down in to the yellow circus that is going on between my legs. I feel the pressure of my son, and I feel the doctor put his hand inside me. "Push" He yells as he pulls. I do. "Push" yells again as he pulls again, and again I do. "Push" and he pulls. Then the doctors yells out "I'm cutting her" and does an episiotomy; He then pulls my son out of me, and I feel myself tear. My son is screaming, and is placed on my chest. I feel so disconnected from everything that just happened I don't fully process that my baby has just been born.
Now that he's born, no one seems very interested or concerned about him. He has a mess of dark hair, just like I'd pictured him having. "I know him, that's my baby!" I think. I was admitted to the hospital at 1am and delivered Ivan at 6:30am. I went from 4cm to 10cm in 5.5 hours, which is pretty darn fast.
I hold my baby, and the doctor takes two hours to stitch me up. I am now hitting the epidural pain button like it's going out of style. I can feel them sewing me up, but the epidural does take the worst of the pain off. Apparently I have one of the worst most complete tears the nurse has ever seen. The holy and the profane where one, and it took two hours of intense work by a surgeon to separate them again. I have also lost a lot of blood, so I am about has lily white as a ghost.
I cry a lot. I feel like this is the most violent, dehumanizing thing I have ever gone through.
Neither the midwife, nor the doctor comes to check on me after I deliver.
With in 6 days of giving birth I will also need to put my dog down. These two events will forever be linked in my mind the birth of my baby, and the death of my best friend. It was probably one of the worst weeks of my life. In the following months, I would suffer from a mild form of PTSD. I will go to counselor a few times, who will basically tell me that "time heals all wounds".
They don't know for sure what caused my son's heart rate to drop, but they told me it was probably linked to the epidural. His drop in heart rate started exactly when the epidural did, and there is likely some kind of causation there.
I still feel so many conflicting emotions toward the doctor who delivered my son. I am so thankful that he got him out safe, but I don't think he treated me with very much kindness or respect; both of which would have gone a long way in the moment.
I feel conflicted on if I should tell my son this story or not. On one hand it's nice to know the story of your birth, on the other it was a terrible experience for me. That said it was worth it. Every day I look at my son and I think I would do it again, a thousand times, to have you in my life. I think we will probably have one more child, but next time I may look into a planned c-section, or a home birth, but I don't want to have that experience again.